Geiser has the hot hand in leading Golden Bears to 57-44 win over Redbirds

Waynedale's Zach Geiser sets the tone for a Golden Bears win

There might be four quarters in a basketball game, but sometimes one quarter is all it takes to determine the outcome of a game.

That was the case when Waynedale took on Loudonville in boys basketball action at the annual Hiland High School First Federal Holiday Showcase on Saturday, Dec. 28 at the Perry Reese Community Center.

The Golden Bears came out of the gate smoking hot, built a 19-5 lead through the first period and made that lead stand up in dismantling Loudonville 57-44.

While the Golden Bears’ defense was playing well early on, it was sophomore Zach Geiser who was doing some major damage on the offensive end for Waynedale.

Golden Bears head coach Kevin Stacy said Geiser had been struggling to find a rhythm shooting the rock coming into the game, but one would never know it from his output in this one.

Phillip Brewer and Chase Murphy scored inside to spot the Bears to a quick 4-0 lead, and after Loudonville’s Joe Henley dropped in a 3-pointer, Geiser took over, hitting a pair of threes and driving baseline for a score to push the Waynedale lead out to 12-3. Garrett Fry scored for the Redbirds to ebb the tide, but the Golden Bears finished the quarter with a flurry as Derek Reber scored inside, Murphy dropped in a three and Geiser ended the quarter with a gorgeous tip-in to complete the 19-5 first period.

“I thought we followed our game plan pretty well except for two things,” Loudonville head coach Kelly Seboe said. “One was our post defense, which actually got a lot better in the second half, and the other was not letting number five (Geiser) get open looks. That was a no-no, and we didn’t transition out on him and close down, and he made us pay.”

“That was nice to see,” Stacy said of Geiser’s performance. “We’ve been waiting for that to happen. He came out on fire, and he has been close a couple of times throughout the season, and when he got going, it was kind of infectious for us.”

While Geiser went off, Waynedale’s trapping zone defense extended the Redbirds well beyond where they wanted to get into their offensive sets, and that made life difficult for Loudonville, and then Stacy would alternate into a man defense that kept Loudonville off-balance.

“We like to switch things up so a team doesn’t get too comfortable in knowing what is coming,” Stacy said. “It’s kind of funny because I thought we’d be predominantly zone coming into the season, but our man has been pretty solid for us, so that has allowed us to mix things up, and while it is still a work in progress, the kids understand what we want to accomplish.”

Loudonville stayed within shouting distance in the second period, thanks to the long ball, with Henley canning another one and Fry knocking down a pair, but a Higgins tally in the paint to end the half left Waynedale up 29-18 after the Redbirds had cut the lead to single digits.

The third period was far too much of a replay of the first quarter for Seboe’s liking, and Waynedale rattled off 10 straight points to put the game essentially out of reach, taking a 39-18 lead.

In that run Higgins scored inside twice, Reber connected on four free throws when he was fouled deep in the paint and then he ended the run with a thunderous dunk.

Seboe, whose biggest player is the 6-foot, 2-inch Fry, said they knew defending the lengthy Golden Bears inside was going to be difficult.

“It’s hard to replicate their length for us in practice,” Seboe said. “We have what we would consider long JV kids who are tiny compared to their guys, so it is impossible to replicate that. When it comes right down to it, all we could do was to make their shots as difficult as possible and hope they miss some of them. In the end I felt like we made their touches fairly difficult, and I couldn’t ask more from our guys and credit them for making shots.”

Stacy said while the bigs were scoring inside, what excited him more was the way the offense flowed through them and presented scoring opportunities for others.

“They can score around the basket, but they are doing a nice job in finding the open shooter outside when they get doubled or even triple-teamed,” Geiser said. “For them to be so selfless with the ball has been a real advantage for us this season, and it’s been a contribution from all of them.”

Jacob Gessner hit a trey, and Matthew Brightbill drove for a pair to get Loudonville back to within 45-27 to end the third quarter, but Waynedale kept attacking the paint and built its lead back up to 22 points on a Reber free throw. Even then the Redbirds kept after it. Fry scored inside and hit a crazy-tough 3-pointer, and Lane Harper scored twice inside, trimming Waynedale’s lead to 14 at 55-41, but the mountain was far too large to overcome at that point.

“Give Loudonville credit. They made some plays and kept things interesting, and that is where we need to get better in putting teams away,” Stacy said.

Fry led all scorers with 17 points but was the lone Redbird in double figures with Henley adding six points. Meanwhile, Geiser led the way for Wayndale with 15 points; Reber added 12 points, five assists and rebounds; Higgins added nine points and five boards; and Dylan Ledford knocked down eight points including two threes.

With the win Waynedale improved to 7-2 while Loudonville fell to 4-4 on the campaign.

“I think both teams knew what was coming, and we didn’t see anything we didn’t expect. They just executed their game plan better than we did,” Seboe said.

Stacy added that over Christmas break it is often tough to determine exactly what kind of effort a coach can expect from his team, and he was pleased with the effort his kids gave in executing their game plan.

“This is a different venue for us, kind of a tournament-type atmosphere, and I thought our energy and effort was really good,” Stacy said.

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